by Sean Wheeler
I applaud things I agree with. Sometimes I'm the only one clapping and that has it's ups-and-downs, but usually I clap when everyone else does. Usually, if that many people join in on clapping for something, it's a pretty good thing to be clapping about.
Our first staff meeting was a barrage of "compliance" and "discipline" rhetoric that, though hard-knuckled, had nothing to do with teaching and learning. We got the new hall pass run-down, policies for tardy students, changes in our in-school suspension process, a reminder about appropriate teacher work attire, and finally, we were told that "Saturday School" was back. The room erupted in applause.
How come teachers are pandered to when it comes to celebrating discipline, while any message of engaged teaching and learning is approached with delicate steps, and "pilots", and "roll-out plans"? While I appreciate teacher frustration in regards to classroom management, the answer shouldn't be to leave the classroom broken and come up with new and better ways to punish kids. All the hall passes and tardy slips in the world can't help students want to learn. Why was I sitting in a room full of teachers applauding the effect and ignoring the cause? Admittedly, teachers have been, and are, continually wrung through the wringer on all fronts. It's a tough job and sometimes you just want someone to fix something, anything. I just wish the first staff meeting of the year could have been about learning. Or at least it would have been nice if it even got mentioned.
After the applause, of course.